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Intronaut live in London - review

While they might have been unexpected stage buddies, turns out Intronaut and The Shining make excellent proggy bedfellows...

Every now and then a tour comes along with a pairing of bands that makes you go, “Ooooh!” Intronaut and Shining is one of those tours. In theory, a manic sax-playing troupe from Norway and a laid back, prog-to-smoke-weed-to-style metal outfit from Los Angeles shouldn’t work as stage buddies. But variety is the spice of life, right? Shining have ridden a wave of success off the back of their genre-mashing assault on jazz. And Intronaut, similarly, have tapped into metal fans’ explorative nature. As a double-headlining tour it makes sense.

Tonight it’s Intronaut’s turn to play last, so Shining go first and they’re a tough act to follow. From the opening strains of I Won’t Forget they whip up a frenzy under a cascade of strobe lighting. Immediately frontman Jørgen Munkeby has got his saxophone out, puffing out a cacophony of jazzy licks while the smoky silhouettes of his bandmates cut cool figures on the stage. Shining perform up to the hilt, so it’s no wonder that some don’t stick around for the headliners.

By contrast Intronaut are static, serious, reticent and focused. Performing tracks from the Devin Townsend-mixed The Direction Of Last Things, the bar is set high. Will these Californians do their complex, powerful-sounding musings justice in a live forum? Sort of, but not quite. Some bands can get away with zero stage chat, it only adds to their coolness, their mystique, but tonight it smacks of a band that are trying too hard… or not, depending on how you look at it.

On the plus side their dense, multi-layered sounds can breathe uninterrupted, earmarking a new mature chapter in their repertoire that has developed from the primitive dirge of 2006’s Void to their modern day formation awash with melodies and contrastive styles.

On record these hooks are wound tightly, but tonight it’s a little loose, enough to detract from the technical merit badge that the four-piece have earned themselves over four albums. On a backdrop projection, plumes of smoke billow from a volcano mirroring the band’s leadweight offering that is part-Mastodon, part-Yes, thanks to their noodly jams. But even the ominous stage visuals are not enough to make this the sensational performance that it should, or could, be.

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